Sunday, April 06, 2008

Interactive Sunday: Another Bachelor Girl Weekend

One of the best parts of up picking up vintage LPs at the Community Thrift Store (besides the fact that an often pristine LP costs little more or less than a single track on iTunes and sounds so much better), is that they often come with interesting back stories.
That was the case today with my finds of a few Mystic Moods Orchestra, Michel Legrand and Les Baxter LPs that were scattered throughout the bins. Only after I got home did I notice that there was a rubber stamp imprint letting me know that these had once been the property of one "MISS LORA DIRENZO 1526 6TH ST". Although it was not clarified which city that address was from, I feel strongly that Miss Direnzo was at this intersection of Sixth and Avenue B. What you think?

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So who was this Lora? A quick search revealed that there was a Lora DiRenzo who graduated from high school in Hamilton, Ontario, in 1946, and a woman of the same name who published a now out of print book of photographs of unknown topics. If she's still around, she'd be around 79 or 80. Did she stay forever a miss? How did her record collection make it all the way to the Pacific? Did she lose interest in the exotica of Les Baxter (best known for arranging the early records Yma Sumac and regaining hipster status in recent years through frequent samplings on Thievery Corporation albums) or does she also have them uploaded in her iPod? Was the woman with amber tinted white hair talking to herself as she ambled up Valencia pushing a shopping cart?

I prefer to believe that Lora is still out there somewhere, still hip and with it eight decades on, sometimes thinking back to her swinging bachelor girl days in 1950s Manhattan when she'd just come back from Haiti photographing traditional voodoo ceremonies. I picture her putting on a track like "Sway (Quien Era)" from Caribbean Moonlight while having a getting-ready-to-go martini before heading out with some friends to hear Dexter Gordon or Sonny Rollins play at some smoky downtown club until her eyes made contact with some charming yet slightly dodgy guy in a black turtleneck who'd just arrived from Lima.

What's your story on Lora?

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At 12:55 PM, Blogger jason said...

I love your image of Lora and her slightly dodgy guy in Manhattan.

It all reminds me a bit of "Bell Book and Candle"

I'm sure she looked exactly like Kim Novak.

At 2:04 PM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Jason - I like the idea of Kim Novak playing her.

At 3:53 PM, Blogger Gavin Elster said...

The smell. It was always the smell. Musty windex and acidic cardboard with a hint of new mold. She learned of her brothers condition shortly after he arrived. at age seven Lorna was never in the room when the condition was spoken of, with the exception of the first time. Her mother, choking back sobs and masking them as if they were coughs simply said "Our little angel is special. So special" Her tears even tried to mask themselves as tears of joy. He left home as quickly as he arrived. Off to live with people who knew how to care for angels. She didnt see him again until her 11th year. While he had always been in her thoughts he was not in her life. She was afraid to speak about him with momma. Her mother had changed since he left becoming quit, withdrawn. Her focus indirect as if she were sleepwalking. That year, that year Mamma woke up. She pulled Lorna aside and told her that she was going to visit her little brother. Mamma said not to be shocked or scared as he may look a little funny. "He wont hurt you."
Mamma kept saying that.
Lorna also learned the name of her brother's condition although it sounded like mamma said he has a microscopic penis she knew to hold back the laughter. She choked back the laughter and masked it with a cough.
Although it looked like a normal suburban home from the outside the inside was quite different. They were greeted at the door by a young man who looked much too young to be a doctor yet wore a white labcoat and scrub pants. From the foyer she could see the entire sunken livingspace was in a sense, a giant playpen with sculptured burnt umber carpeting. The smell...
Musty windex and acidic cardboard with a hint of new mold.
In the corner was a boarded, white, flagstone fireplace and seated in front was a young boy. Her brother.
His face was sweet. A gentle but broad toothy smile. His face was kind yet something was offputting. His face was too large. Not "mongolid" as her Mamma would say but large as it it were an ill fitting but realistic mask. His features seemed to large for his head. The smile, that tooth smile was now pointing directly at Lorna. She could now see that it was his head that seemed too small for his face. Indeed it was as if he was a face only with a shock of jet black hair bobbed to frame that toothy smile. He "whooped". A sound she would grow to love.

Lorna was motionless by the donation truck. That smell... It was the records. Even after her first heart attack she would visit her brother and bring him lps. He loved music and faithfully listened to each and every one she sent his way. For years she worked for the "MERRICK COMMUNITY SERVICES FOUNDATION" and would stamp each and every record she sent to him with her return address in the hopes he would know they were from her when she couldnt deliver them in person. Now He was gone. Mamma was gone too but this was different. He was an angel. Her tears didn't try to hide the fact they were not tears of joy. 10 stolen milkcrates full of Lp's were being loaded into the donation truck.
Being returned to her office.

Lorna hated those crates. They sat in the basement, just far enough away that the pain wasn't constant.
When Lorna passed her office was picked clean by office vultures and the crates eventually made there way to Amoeba records in Berkley where a Urban Outfitters temp cashier sold them for just enough money to by that lip balm he likes and a vente caramel frappachino.

At 5:01 PM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Gavin - I was feeling disappointed that for so long this post didn't garner any comments. (Yes, comment whore here, I know.) It was worth the wait for your tale -- very poignant, sad and believable. How horrible to think that those things we cherish and are embedded with bittersweet memories could be sold off for a tube of lip balm.

At 9:39 AM, Blogger Gavin Elster said...

oh wait... This is Lora not Lorna.

At 10:47 AM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Gavin - The story was so good I didn't even notice the slip on the name.

At 12:43 PM, Blogger clee said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

At 1:10 PM, Blogger clee said...

To solve the riddle of "who was Lora Direnzo"....she was a real person. She immigrated from Canada to NYC, and finally to SFO. She lived many many years on Montgomery St in SFO. She was a flight attendant for The Flying Tiger Line. Her job allowed her to travel "off the beaten track" and she collected music along the way, music of every genre. She didn't look at all like Kim Novak, she was a very tall, dark haired Italian woman. In her youth she was a stunning woman. I flew with her for 25 years and knew her as well as anyone. She never let people get too close. She was a loner, always in her own world. I often wondered if she was lonely, but I think the music was her friend. If you happened to be on the same floor in a hotel while on a layover you could always hear music coming from her room. Sadly she died in January of 2008. She was 77. I was in her apartment once, and was amazed at what she "collected". So...if you own an album with Lora's name on it, know that you are holding one of her treasures. She was a unique woman.


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